If we look down.....
..that's where we'll end up
Thank you, Christina Dale and Smugmug for the photos in this post :)
If we persist in staring down, that’s where we’re going to end up. Elevating our thoughts towards Heaven prevents us from becoming despondent and downhearted.
He's so right! When things go horribly wrong in my own life, I shuffle along feeling sorry for myself, with hunched shoulders and bowed head. Everything is doom and gloom.
What a different story when I lift up my head, straighten my shoulders and meet life head on! The physical act of standing upright brings with it a sense of determination and purpose.
Then we pray to God for help and He gives us the strength to deal with the difficulties life throws at us.
We have to swallow our pride and get back on that horse (once we catch him)!
It’s the same when you’re on a horse. No matter whether you’re riding dressage or jumping, you need to sit up straight and look ahead.
With dressage this means looking at the letter you're aiming for in a particular movement. For jumping, it means looking over the fence, not at it. You don’t want to land on the obstacle, you want to clear it.
In both scenarios we mustn't look down, or that's where we’ll end up!
What Happens When We Fall?
When we first learn to ride, we think that not falling off makes us good riders and we're proud of ourselves.
But then comes the day when we take a tumble. The longer it has taken that day to come, the harder it is to shake off the experience and get back on the horse.
Some people never do. I often hear stories from friends about how the day they fell off a horse was the time they rode. They never got back in the saddle – they didn’t want to take the chance of falling off again.
How sad! They've missed out on so much fun.
I’ve fallen off more times than I can remember. Some of those incidents were physically painful, others just bruised my ego. Even though I never want to, I get back on the horse straight away, if I'm physically able.
If not, I would have to brand myself a coward for life. That would be way more painful.
I’m not naturally courageous. If you follow my horse blog posts, you’ll see plenty of occasions when I’m nervous and it takes a lot to get me going again. My horse, Cruz Bay and I have taken some dreadful tumbles, and it isn’t easy to get over them.
I have to work at avoiding the errors which led to those falls and not give up when I mess up.
The Christian life requires the same attitude.
We need to learn from our mistakes and try not to repeat them
That is one tough challenge, isn’t it? Who can live up to that?
Riding has taught me that I will never be the perfect horsewoman, but I still strive to become that person. How much more vital is reaching for perfection in the Christian life!
Sadly for many, the seeming impossibility of attaining this goal is so discouraging that they don’t even try to reach it. Or maybe they work hard for a while, feel they’re making progress, then become despondent when they fall into sin again.
Having sinned once more, they've proved they’re not perfect. So they may as well commit another, and another, until they are much further from the goal than when they started.
Christ talks about this when he mentions the man whose house is swept clean when the demons are removed. But when the man is not truly committed and doesn’t replace those demons with good living, many more come back into him than were there in the first place (Luke 11:24-46).
We need to make peace with our horses and ourselves and carry on
Does that mean that it's hopeless trying to be good?
Of course not! Christ died on the cross to make up for our deficiencies and grant us mercy when we fail: He walks with us in the good times and the bad.
If we fall into sin, we must sincerely repent and ask Him for forgiveness then pick ourselves up and walk again in the paths of righteousness.
We will fall into sin, time and time again. Way more often than the average rider falls off a horse!
Follow Your Passion
But if Christ is our passion, we get up, dust ourselves off with a healthy visit to the confessional, and resume our spiritual course. If we love Christ, we’ll be quick to apologize to the One Whose mercy is endless and Whose compassion inexhaustible.
Christ reaches out His hands to us every time we fail.
We then mustn't sin further by refusing to trust in His mercy and forgiveness, or equate Christ’s limitless reservoir of forgiveness with the pitiful puddle that is our own version of it.
Falling Must Lead to Getting Up
Being human, we expect to fall. Being a Christian means getting up from a fall - again and again and again.
That is where Catholics are fortunate: we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation and hear the words of the priest in persona Christi absolving us of our sins. We can receive a fresh start as often as we need it.
And for those of us who feel that we might as well take a tape recording of our sins and press ‘play’ for the priest at every confession, because the sins are always the same: would you rather have more to confess than you already have?
We must keep battling with our sins, and get up again and again and again for the rest of our lives.
Then we can truly call ourselves Christians.